2017-01-06 / Sports

Soccer madness

BOYS’ SOCCER /// Coastal Canyon League Royal, Simi Valley boys’ teams to battle for glory in league
By Jonathan Andrade


THE WIZ KID—Simi Valley High senior striker Caleb Malabo dribbles the ball amid a horde of Thousand Oaks defenders during the Pioneer boys’ soccer team’s 3-1 loss on Jan. 3 on the road. 
Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers THE WIZ KID—Simi Valley High senior striker Caleb Malabo dribbles the ball amid a horde of Thousand Oaks defenders during the Pioneer boys’ soccer team’s 3-1 loss on Jan. 3 on the road. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Rain, rain, go away . . . Coastal Canyon League boys’ soccer action is on the way.

Squads at Camarillo, Oak Park, Royal and Simi Valley high schools kick off league action on Jan. 11. Moorpark’s league slate begins Jan. 13.

Every team is trying to find the formula to put an end to Royal’s streak of five straight league titles, including three Coastal Canyon crowns since the league was formed.

It’ll be a dogfight for first place this year.

“I can’t remember a single game that’s been easy,” Royal head coach Ignacio Saldain said. “Even Oak Park can give you a battle. It’s a coin toss with these teams. Anyone that thinks there will be an easy game is delirious.”


TAKE CONTROL—Simi Valley’s Blake Ferry, left, dribbles the ball around Thousand Oaks’ Christian Lopez on Tuesday night. TAKE CONTROL—Simi Valley’s Blake Ferry, left, dribbles the ball around Thousand Oaks’ Christian Lopez on Tuesday night. ROYAL HIGHLANDERS

Royal will battle for a sixth straight league title this winter.

The Highlanders, a Division 1 team, are off to a hot start, plowing to a 14-3-1 overall record. They took third at the Burroughs Tournament and at the Crescenta Valley Classic. Royal won its own Royal Showcase on Dec. 17.

Head coach Ignacio Saldain said he hopes the early success translates to league and postseason glory.

“Even though they want a CIF title, they don’t think by any means that league is in the bag,” Saldain said. “We know the other teams are going to be fierce. It would make their season to beat us.”

Royal’s potent offense is tough to slow down.


FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT—Simi Valley’s Brandon Piedra, left, and Thousand Oaks’ Jonathan Chow battle for the ball on Jan. 3. FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT—Simi Valley’s Brandon Piedra, left, and Thousand Oaks’ Jonathan Chow battle for the ball on Jan. 3. Alexis Garcia, a senior star forward, has 13 goals and five assists.

Jose Torres, also a senior forward, gives Royal another lethal scoring threat after moving from Oregon in the summer.

“He’s probably, in the past six games, our best player on the pitch,” the coach said of Torres.

Angel Perez, a four-year varsity senior, controls the pace at midfield.

The Highlander defense, led by senior Mike Ramos, is solid in front of senior goalkeeper Nick Lapinid, who has 40 saves in 17 games.

Royal returns to the pitch at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 11 at Oak Park.

SIMI VALLEY PIONEERS

The Pioneers must be tired of watching the rival Highlanders hoist all the hardware.

Simi Valley (5-4-2 overall) finished second to Royal last winter.

Pioneer head coach Tim Clunen believes the league will boil down to the same teams again this year.

“Moorpark will give people problems, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be Simi and Royal,” Clunen said.

He said the key to beating Royal is stopping superstar striker Alexis Garcia.

“There’s nobody else on Royal that scares me, but Alexis is a good player,” the coach said. “He could win a title for them by himself if no one accounts for him.”

Simi Valley has its own ace in the hole. Caleb Malabo, a senior striker, already has 12 goals and two assists this season.

“He doesn’t need a lot of space to finish,” the coach said of Malabo. “He’s probably one of the best in the area in terms of finishing.”

Midfielders Blake Ferry, a senior; Ryan Fraye, a junior; and Nicholas Villamizar, a sophomore, push the tempo.

Freshman midfielder Dylan Studer is a star in the making.

Lucas Malabo, Caleb’s twin, stars as a senior sweeper on defense.

Simi Valley plays at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 11 at Camarillo.

MOORPARK MUSKETEERS

Manny Galvez, an assistant coach last season, has taken over the program at Moorpark.

Galvez, a firefighter, likes what he sees from his young lineup.

“They get along really well,” he said. “They’re all working for the same goal. It’s just a matter of getting those finishing touches before league.”

Moorpark (2-5-3 overall) has a final tuneup at noon today at Saugus, then the Musketeers play host to Oak Park at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 13 in Moorpark’s Coastal Canyon opener.

Moorpark’s defense is a consistent unit.

Seniors Trevor Hadju, a captain, and Richy Garcia join forces with junior Carson Goodwin and sophomore Johnny Morales on defense.

Manny Martinez, a junior, is a starting goalie.

The Musketeer midfield, which includes senior Cameron Nieven and juniors Justin Magaña and Isaac Hurtado, is feisty.

“They hunt like a pack of wolves,” the coach said.

Juan Garcia, a senior captain, junior Ryan Galvez, the coach’s son, and sophomore Zayne Elnaka power the offense.

“We’ll be able to hold teams off with our midfield and defensive strength,” Manny Galvez said. “It’s a matter of capitalizing on the opportunities we’re given.”

CAMARILLO SCORPIONS

Camarillo trots out a stout, physical defense.

The back line helped the Scorpions, a Division 3 team, start this season 5-2-2 overall, including two scoreless draws against Division 1 Santa Barbara, ranked No. 6 in the coaches’ poll.

“I’m really happy with the way we’re playing as a group,” head coach Lonnie Sizemore said. “We’re never going to be the technical

Santa Barbara or Pacifica, but we’re always going to be scrappy.”

Returning defensive starters Kris Hotchkiss, Carlos Alfaro and Alex Bibian, all seniors, solidify the back row.

Jacob Cuccia, a senior captain who roams the midfield, is one of Camarillo’s top contributors with two goals and two assists.

“He’s really been a great leader for us, making sacrifices,” the coach said of Cuccia’s versatility. “He can play the wing or up top. If I asked him to play keeper, he would go in goal for me.”

Senior forward Matthew Alcozar, senior midfielder Matias Montory and junior midfielders Alex Medina and Brandon Duran are also playing well.

Camarillo is next in action at 6 tonight at home against Oxnard.

The Scorpions open league play at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 11 at home against Simi Valley.

OAK PARK EAGLES

Oak Park’s found some consistency on the field.

The Eagles (3-2-2 overall) are unbeaten in their past four games, picking up wins against Calabasas and Westlake.

“We’re looking good,” head coach Kai Werring said. “We’ve had kind of an up-and-down preseason, but we’re coming into league with positive wins.”

Oak Park opens Coastal Canyon play at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 11 against Royal at home.

The Eagles are playing smart, controlled soccer.

“They’re picking and choosing the best times to move the ball forward and keep possession of the ball,” Werring said.

Danny Taras, a senior who has three goals, thrives at forward.

“He’s really buying into our possession-based philosophy,” the coach said of Taras.

Fellow senior forwards Lars Defty and Kaya Sunguroglu are also playing well.

Seniors Cole Spooner and Garrett Naylor control the midfield. Daniel Glickstein and Alec Greenbaum, both senior defenders, keep opposing scorers at bay.

“My expectations are very high,” Werring said. “It’s up to the boys to prove it. We have to do our best at being patient, trying to wear teams down.”

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